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Using electricity instead of chemicals to kill weeds


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#1 swacholtz

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Posted 7 October 2005 - 04:35 PM

I am interested to know how much electricity over a certain amount of time (say instantly to about ten seconds) it would take to kill your average garden type weed (roots and all). How does the electricity actually kill the weed (other than simply frying it)? Do you know of any commercial products that can do this already? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 YT2095

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Posted 7 October 2005 - 04:57 PM

propriatory weed killers (the systemic types) work by interupting Krebbs cycle, I can`t see how (OTHER THAN frying it) electricity could acheive this.
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#3 Bluenoise

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Posted 9 October 2005 - 01:50 AM

I'm curious how you'd actually specifically target weeds with electricity, without killing everything else around.
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#4 Halucigenia

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 07:44 PM

I'm curious too, swacholtz - have you actually heard of using electricity as a weedkiller, or are you just proposing it yourself.
I would bet that you would need a hell of a lot of voltage or current to actually do the job.
The easiest test that I can think of is:-
Take a car battery and a jumper leads place one lead to one terminal and the other to a metal pole placed in the ground next to the test weed. Then take the other lead and connect one end to the other terminal and ther other end to the weed. If this does not work take 2 car batteries.........

The high voltage option would be more spectacular - just imagine going around your garden with an electric weed zapper - die weed, die, zap zap zap ha ha ha (mad scientist type laugh).

My favorite organic (questionable) way to kill weeds was with a flame thrower (I still have it but don't use it much now).
My second favorite, non organic, way to kill weeds was with what I called my hand of death (more mad scientist laughter) - take a runbber glove, cover it with a wollen glove, coat the woolen glove with systemic weedkiller, like glyphosate, and just stroke the weeds. You can get right in between your ornamentals or veggies this way without spraying.

Right I'm off to the garden with my batteries and jumper leads now, I just wonder what the neighbours will think?:eek:
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#5 Conceptual

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 02:03 PM

Years back at college I did some research growing plants with electric fields. This was based on 1905 research. It actually works and increases yields and sugar production. A EE friend of mine built me a 1500V DC (2watts) device that I used to set up two aluminum foil plates above and below the potted plants. I taped the upper plate to the ceiling by a string because it was very light.

One night, the tape unstuck and the upper plate fell on the plants and electrocuted most of them. What appeared to happen was that the capulary action within the water flow of the plants became disrupted (maybe bubbles). The plants keeled over. With the experiment mostly ruined I took the electrodes and started to look at the effects of a direct zap on the remaining plants. The disruption process was very fast, almost immediately with no chance of recovery. One may use one of those TASAR devices for further experiments. One should be able to target distinct weeds without hurting things around it.

#6 Mayflower

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 09:00 PM

One should be able to target distinct weeds without hurting things around it.


Robots manually destroying weeds. I can see the future of agriculture now ;)
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#7 EvoN1020v

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 09:22 PM

I'm not exactly sure if you could actually targeting weeds in a garden with vegetables and fruits. Also, I'm not sure if the soil have enough water to allow the free flowing of electricty (conductor). If it does, then it would affect the whole garden because plants share the same chemical properties.

:confused:
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#8 Unk

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 01:41 PM

in the early 1980's UK TV had a programme called "Tommorrows World" where they demonstrated inventions.... which included an electric weed zapper, powered by a battery on the belt... you just have to get the amps right.. yes it basically bursts the cells of the plant, and it dies... all the way to the tip.

I believe the abuse of the item was what caught the attention of the Police, who banned the product (I think) but took the principle on, to create the Tasar (or however it is spelt).

Unfortunately tasars are also illegal in the UK (except for police officers) and as I have just paid 160 (circa$300) per KG for the wildflower seed for 50 acres of land, I cannot use sprays.. and want to target Thistles and dock, for which this would be ideal.

Consequently i am trying to design something for a tractor which can target weeds higher than the surrounding crop, but you can imagine the sparks flying, and the picture of such activity done at night! (dew would help conductivity at the top):-p
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#9 Pseudoswallo

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 05:47 PM

This sounds very neat, and I think I'll go try it on the grass invading my veggie gardin. It might be easier to pull them up, but I think I deserve some electrical satisfaction (Mwua ha ha ha!!!).
By the way, Conceptual, I would be most interested to hear more of this experiment (but not here-now on this thread).
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Dang it! Every post I make I look dumber and dumber.:rolleyes:
I'd better wait longer in between posts:cool:

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#10 YT2095

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 06:04 PM

Consequently i am trying to design something for a tractor which can target weeds higher than the surrounding crop, but you can imagine the sparks flying, and the picture of such activity done at night! (dew would help conductivity at the top):-p


something like a Comb devive with alternate polarities per tooth, a bit like hedge trimmers seperated and stagered with a + applied to one length and the - to the other, probably using Nylon nuts and bolts + seperators would work for you.

it most certainly will Not kill perenial weeds though, anuals perhaps, but dock and the likes... forget it :-(
you need Glyphosate or similar for that sort.
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#11 weknowthewor

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Posted 5 March 2007 - 10:06 AM

high voltage can kill nutrients causing growth of weeds, resonance creates vibrations, but use of electricity will depend on the technology used.
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#12 Cinemilitia

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 04:37 AM

My question is quite off beat. I am a film maker, and I am trying to get a shot of flowers withering within 60 seconds. I have asked dozens of Bio/Chem professors about how I could accomplish this. Most of them agree that any chemicals strong enough to destroy the molecular composition quickly enough to see visible withering or drooping would be potentially very harmful to my cast and crew.

I am curious, does anyone know how I could electrocute a bouquet of flowers in a vase in a controlled manner in order to produce the effect that the flowers have died?

Any help or references are kindly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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#13 mrburns2012

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 07:17 AM

My question is quite off beat. I am a film maker, and I am trying to get a shot of flowers withering within 60 seconds. I have asked dozens of Bio/Chem professors about how I could accomplish this. Most of them agree that any chemicals strong enough to destroy the molecular composition quickly enough to see visible withering or drooping would be potentially very harmful to my cast and crew.

I am curious, does anyone know how I could electrocute a bouquet of flowers in a vase in a controlled manner in order to produce the effect that the flowers have died?

Any help or references are kindly appreciated. Thanks in advance!


Just a wild suggestion, but have you tried good ol' heat, e.g. from candles, microwave ovens, conventional ovens, etc...? It's less toxic, less hazardous, cheap, and could potentially to give the effect you're looking for.
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#14 CaptainPanic

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 08:41 AM

My question is quite off beat. I am a film maker, and I am trying to get a shot of flowers withering within 60 seconds. I have asked dozens of Bio/Chem professors about how I could accomplish this. Most of them agree that any chemicals strong enough to destroy the molecular composition quickly enough to see visible withering or drooping would be potentially very harmful to my cast and crew.

I am curious, does anyone know how I could electrocute a bouquet of flowers in a vase in a controlled manner in order to produce the effect that the flowers have died?

Any help or references are kindly appreciated. Thanks in advance!


If you make a saturated solution of potassium nitrate (meaning no more salt dissolves - warning: it's a lot of salt), and you feed that to your plant in large amounts, effectively replacing all normal water in the pot, then this salt solution will suck the water right out of the plant - perhaps not in 1 minute, but surely in about 1 hour... I've done it once, just for fun to test a massive overdose of fertilizer (potassium nitrate is a fertilizer).
I got a very fast reaction, for a plant >:D. The plant became weak, and the leaves were hanging. Depending on the plant it might even fall over.

At that time I wasn't interested in how fast it goes... so I cannot remember if it happens in 1 minute (probably not)... But it's visible.

But it's not really on topic, since it actually uses chemicals, not electricity (opposite from topic).
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#15 YT2095

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 09:52 AM

My question is quite off beat. I am a film maker, and I am trying to get a shot of flowers withering within 60 seconds. I have asked dozens of Bio/Chem professors about how I could accomplish this. Most of them agree that any chemicals strong enough to destroy the molecular composition quickly enough to see visible withering or drooping would be potentially very harmful to my cast and crew.

I am curious, does anyone know how I could electrocute a bouquet of flowers in a vase in a controlled manner in order to produce the effect that the flowers have died?

Any help or references are kindly appreciated. Thanks in advance!


may I suggest the old Tried `n`Tested Time Lapse photography.
take a single frame every 30 mins over a week or 2 and then play it at normal speed(25 FPS) back.
using the simple Sandwich technique afterwards to superimpose the flowers onto your footage, or if your not using Film, then simple cloning tools in a video editing package will overlay this into your footage nicely too.
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#16 JohnnyColeman

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Posted 8 August 2011 - 03:18 AM

Do you still have the records you kept on your research project? I would like to read them.

Thanks,

Johnny


Years back at college I did some research growing plants with electric fields. This was based on 1905 research. It actually works and increases yields and sugar production. A EE friend of mine built me a 1500V DC (2watts) device that I used to set up two aluminum foil plates above and below the potted plants. I taped the upper plate to the ceiling by a string because it was very light.

One night, the tape unstuck and the upper plate fell on the plants and electrocuted most of them. What appeared to happen was that the capulary action within the water flow of the plants became disrupted (maybe bubbles). The plants keeled over. With the experiment mostly ruined I took the electrodes and started to look at the effects of a direct zap on the remaining plants. The disruption process was very fast, almost immediately with no chance of recovery. One may use one of those TASAR devices for further experiments. One should be able to target distinct weeds without hurting things around it.


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#17 Greg Boyles

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Posted 9 August 2011 - 01:00 PM

I am interested to know how much electricity over a certain amount of time (say instantly to about ten seconds) it would take to kill your average garden type weed (roots and all). How does the electricity actually kill the weed (other than simply frying it)? Do you know of any commercial products that can do this already? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Take it from some one who works in the Australian conservation sector and has considerable experience controlling weeds on a medium scale - bigger than urban gardens but smaller than broadacre farms.

It is not a cost effective way to control weeds.

There has been some trials using sugar, recently featured on ABC Catalyst.

The sugar acts as an immediately available source of carbon for soil bacteria that bloom, reduce soil nitrogen levels and starve many annual weeds to death. This opens up an opportunity to introduce native grasses that then prevent the weeds re-establishing by keeping soil N low. Use of fire is an important part of the process to permanently eliminate the excess soil N.

The researchers sprinkled solid sugar over their trial plots every 3 months (1kg per square metres) but this not commercially practical over a medium scale nor will it result in even distribution of sugar over larger areas. And it does not work for all weeds, e.g. Romulea.

We are intending to run a trial based on spraying a concentrated sugar solution more frequently instead to acheive the same rate of application. But even this will only be practical for small areas and specific circumstances where spraying herbicides is problematic, e.g. annual weeds among native perennial herbs and grasses.
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#18 StringJunky

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Posted 9 August 2011 - 01:36 PM

If it works, might such a device be good as a 'spot' weed killer for eliminating individual deep-rooted weeds like Dandelions on well-tended lawns? Chemical treatment and manual removal can be hit and miss or too broad in effect on lawns in this situation. If you could fatally electrocute the plant first then leaving a bit of root behind when you dig it up won't matter. Dandelions were the bane of my Grandfather's life and we often left reproducible fragments behind after extraction.

Edited by StringJunky, 9 August 2011 - 01:37 PM.

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#19 Greg Boyles

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Posted 9 August 2011 - 02:12 PM

If it works, might such a device be good as a 'spot' weed killer for eliminating individual deep-rooted weeds like Dandelions on well-tended lawns? Chemical treatment and manual removal can be hit and miss or too broad in effect on lawns in this situation. If you could fatally electrocute the plant first then leaving a bit of root behind when you dig it up won't matter. Dandelions were the bane of my Grandfather's life and we often left reproducible fragments behind after extraction.


Why would you......pardon my french.......pi$$ fart around with a highly complicated electrical system, whose effectiveness is highly questionable, when you could just over spray the lawn with Yates Zero Bindii & Clover at about $8 for 500ml of concentrate that is guarenteed to work. The dicamba and MCPA in this product are entirely biodegradable, both in the soil and in the human body. Unless you wash your hands in it, drink it, inhale the mist or use it 24/7 it is not damaging to your health or that of your garden.

Until weed specific biological controls are available selective systemic herbicides are the best tool we have to combat weeds.
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#20 amanda more

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Posted 9 August 2011 - 03:45 PM

Why would you......pardon my french.......pi$ fart around with a highly complicated electrical system, whose effectiveness is highly questionable, when you could just over spray the lawn with Yates Zero Bindii & Clover at about $8 for 500ml of concentrate that is guarenteed to work. The dicamba and MCPA in this product are entirely biodegradable, both in the soil and in the human body. Unless you wash your hands in it, drink it, inhale the mist or use it 24/7 it is not damaging to your health or that of your garden.

Until weed specific biological controls are available selective systemic herbicides are the best tool we have to combat weeds.


I work in technology so I'm not a complete Luddite. There is a vast experiment underway where we are exposing ourselves to a chemical soup. Here is one study:

http://ccceh.hs.colu...ress042111.html

Herbicides should be safer. Still, how odd responsible people using bug bombs to keep a roach free place inadvertently harmed their children. I wonder if heat can be used without causing flame making it safer for those standing on wet ground. A bunch of weeds were just pulled from my yard. That is a pain. I have never had chemicals on the yard but did do a few bug bombs inside years ago.
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